In Part I of this blog we told the remarkable story of the Bacheler coat, which was given to the City of Gloucester by Albert Bacheler. The former high school principal received the life-saving garment from an African American after escaping from the notorious Libby Prison in Richmond, VA, during the Civil War.
After eighty years folded sideways and pressed into a narrow frame, the coat needed multiple rounds of humidification to relax creases and folds, and correct long-ingrained distortions. Realigning the torn fabrics then allowed us to determine which tears and holes posed a threat to the overall stability of the coat, and which could be left to bear testimony to the arduous journey Bacheler took to reunite with his battalion. Hand stitching and a minimum of cotton support patches were employed before the coat was deemed fit for display.
The coat will be installed at Gloucester High School in 2017, and the legacy of principal Bacheler will live on. Museum Textile Services wishes to thank the Gloucester Committee for the Arts, the City of Gloucester, Charles and George King, and the many donors who made this preservation project possible.